Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bounce back day at the Spengler for Team Canada

They may have been disappointed at how the Spengler Cup tournament got under way, an unexpected  overtime loss to Mannheim, but game number two was a much more positive experience for the Canadians.

Team Canada routed the defending Spengler Champs HC Davos by a score of 5-0, a dominating performance that saw the Canadians in control of all facets of the game from the opening face off.

With single goals from John Tavares, Ryan Smith and Jason Williams, as well as a pair of markers from Byron Ritchie

The only thing in question by the time period three started up was whether Canadian goaltender Devan Dubnyk would claim the shutout on behalf of Canada.

Canada has the day off on Friday, no doubt cheering for the Davos squad to top Mannheim, which would move Canada to the top of their pool and put them in a fine position heading towards New Years Eve and the Championship game.

The Spengler Cup this year is showing some fine flashes of the kind of hockey that North Americans have missed out on since the NHL lockout, the players in effect having joined the witness protection program of professional hockey, as they play out the lockout with European clubs.

Still, for the short burst of the holidays, North Americans will once again hear the names of Thornton, Spezza, Pominville, Tavares and a host of others, a familiar theme from the thirty member teams of the NHL. Now exiles to a fashion, playing their game for Davos, Ufa, Mannheim and others club teams stretched across the European continent.

When New Year's Eve comes and goes, TSN's helpful broadcast journeyman Paul Romanuk might want to pitch the idea of a game of the week to some of the North American networks looking for some  hockey to fill in the scheduling gaps of a long, long NHL lockout.

Should the NHL pull the plug on hockey for 2012-13 in mid January, maybe a certain Hockey Night institution might want to pick up that particular torch, giving Donald Cherry and his sidekick Ron MacLean even more opportunity to weigh in on some of that fancy skating and such from the continent once a week.

Before that might happen however, there is still the matter of determining a champion for Spengler 2012, the Canadians did themselves a huge favour with such an impressive showing on Thursday, keeping up the pressure and finding that chemistry will be the key to making it through til New Years Eve.

Some of the reviews of the shutout of Davos can be found below

CBC-- Canada rebounds against defending Spengler Champs
CBC-- Unheralded Canadians getting job done at Spengler Cup
Sportsnet- Canada responds at Spengler, beats HC Davos

Gary Bettman's keys to NHL financial success

As they used to say on the A Team, you have to love it when a plan comes together...

When and if, or is that if and When? The NHL lockout ever comes to an end, we suspect that there will be an instant book out on the market, destined for the financial section of your local bookstore, e reader or for the old timers out there, the library...

Gary Bettman's keys to financial success...

Chapter One

Don't play a game

Chapter Two

Don't pay your taxes

Other Chapters to come... With a forward no doubt from Gordon Gekko

World Junior Notes 2012

Team Canada seeks to return to Gold Medal status at the 2012-13 World Junior Championships, looking to return the favour to the Russian hosts for their claiming of the title last year.

The path however will be a tough one, along with the obvious time change requirements that brought Canada to Ufa, the competition seems to get tougher and tougher as the tournament grows in stature.

One team looking to block Team Canada's way to gold will be the USA squad, which always relishes the opportunity to send notice to the Canadians that they aren't the only ones from this side of the pond that can play the game.

Full background on Team Canada and the World Junior Tournament can be found from the following web hosts...

National Post
Globe and Mail
Toronto Star
Sun Newspapers
Hockey Canada

We'll update the scores and standings in the tournament, as well as offer up some notes from the tournament below.  Following both Team Canada and Team USA as they work their way through the preliminary games and perhaps for one or the other (maybe both), on to the Gold Medal game.

December 30

Canada 2 - USA 1

Goaltenders steal show in Canada's win over U. S. at world juniors
Subban rides to the rescue for the Canadian Junior Team
Malcolm Subban earns cape as hero for Canadians
Canada beats USA 2-1 at world junior championships

December 28 

Team Canada 6 - Slovakia 3

Canada comes back to beat Slovakia in penalty-marred affair at world juniors
Canada rallies to 6-3 win over Slovakia after slow start
Canadian juniors beat Slovakia after early wake up call
J. C. Lipon faces suspension for short-handed Canadians

Russia 2 - Team USA 1

Russia goalie Andrei Makarov stifles United States at world juniors
Russia downs Team USA 2-1
USA loses to Russia at wold juniors hockey

December 27

USA 8 - Germany 0

Team USA hammers Germany 8-0
Montreal Canadiens hopeful Alex Galchenyuk scores in Team USA debut
Galchenyuk, Barber lead USA to rout of Germany at WJHC

December 26

Team Canada 9 - Germany 3

Nugent-Hopkins powers Canada past Germany at World Juniors
Ryan-Nugent Hopkins enjoys impressive world junior debut
Nugent-Hopkins makes a statement in Canada's 9-3 win over Germany
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins' five points leads Canada to rout of Germany in world junior opener

Spengler Cup Notes 2012

An archive of notes from the short blast of high temp hockey known as the Spengler Cup. We'll provide some of the items of note we come across as the tournament works its way towards the New Years Eve finale.

Scores, schedules and such can be found on our main Spengler page, the day by day reviews of the Spengler action can be found below.

December 27

HockeyNation-- Bounce back day at the Spengler for Team Canada
CBC-- Canada rebounds against defending Spengler Champs
TSN-- Shedden on Familiar Ground at Spengler Cup

December 26

Toronto Star-- Adler Mannheim stuns Canada 2-1 in opener
National Post-- Jason Pominville sinks talent-laden Canada in Spengler Cup opener
National Post-- Canada's Spengler Cup team forced to find quick chemistry ahead of tournament opener
TSN-- Spengler Cup tradition moved to Christmas Day

December 25

The Score-- If you're really missing NHL hockey, you'll want to watch the Spengler Cup
CBC-- Canada must come together quickly for Spengler Cup success

December 7

CBC-- NHL Lockout impacts Canada's Spengler cup roster

Spengler Cup puck drops for 2012

Canadians will be able to see some professional hockey with familiar names this week as the Spengler Cup provides our Boxing to New Years Eve hockey fix.

Normally, the tournament is kind of like one of those old TV shows "whatever happened to..." as former NHLers, AHLers or past juniors and university hockey players ply their trade in the more relaxed atmosphere of European hockey. The tournament also has the added bonus of a pay cheque for Paul Romanuk, who once a year returns to the TSN screens, bringing us the play by play and background of the names that lead us all to go, ah that's where he is.

Not this year however, where many of the names on your TV set and called out by Romanuk will sound rather familiar

Europe has become the storage shed of NHL players this year, with many of the locked out players heading to points east, north, south and west across the continent, for some this week will make for  a bit of a reunion of the ex-pats as the Spengler tournament brings them all together in Davos, Switzerland.

Six teams are entered in the Spengler Cup, five club squads and one coalition of the Canadians playing for European based teams.

You can pick up some background on the tournament from the Hockey Canada website and from the Spengler Cup site itself.

We'll update the scoreboard below and offer up items of note from the Spengler as the tournament moves on.

Friday, December 28th

HC Fribourg-Totteron vs HC Vikovice Steel
Adler Mannheim vs HC Davos

Thursday, December 27th

Canada 5 vs HC Davos 0
HC Vitkovice Steel 4 vs Salavat Yulaev Ufa 5 (OT)

Wednesday, December 26th

HC Fribourg 5 - Salavat Yulaev Ufa 1
Canada 1 - Adler Mannheim 2 (OT)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Just remember Mr. Bettman, you're just borrowing the game

Nike hits the mark with a look at the impact of hockey on Canada, sure the pro game is gone til the New Year and well, the way these two sides are behaving most likely for longer, but the game, nah the game is fine.

The short ad which features a variety of players both pro and amateur, captures the essence of the game, far away from the professional palaces and the never ending bickering of the negotiating table.

We just need a place to pull on the skates, grab a Zamboni or two, shoot a puck (or reasonable facsimile there of) and away we go.

Game On Canada, go find one to take in.

 You may find that you don't miss the battling bunch, as much as they seem to think we do.

In short, the take away message for the powers to be around the table is:  The fans, we're ok, you guys, well not so much!

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Juniors take the spotlight

Hockey starved fans will find some relief with the Christmas Holidays about to arrive, as the annual holiday ritual of the World Junior Hockey Tournament is once again upon us.

The World Junior has long been a mainstay on Canadian viewing schedules, though the early, early morning start times (4AM ET, 1 AM PT) will probably test the resolve of some, still the tournament has long been one of TSN's most popular programming options and one which regularly brings in huge viewership for the Sports network.

This year's festival of puck is coming from Russia, the tournament which in the last few years had set up residence returns to the other side of the ocean, it will be with interest that we watch the attendance figures, these trips to Europe in the past haven't had quite the same interest with fans as the Canadian hosted events.

The World Junior's for whatever reason seems to have been adopted by Canadians as one of the more important of hockey tournaments that there are, perhaps it's all those years of minor hockey tournaments that have Canadians conditioned such, regardless of the reasons if it wasn't for Canadian hockey fans we imagine the tournament would be the thing of sports network crawler alerts and little more.

The tournament gets underway on Boxing Day, the pre tournament games already underway as the North American teams try to get their skating legs up to speed before the real drama gets underway once the Christmas presents have been unwrapped.

Both Canada and the USA are in Group B, Canada opens up the tournament on Boxing Day with a match up with the German team, the USA won't see action until Thursday when they also draw the Germans to get things underway.

The full schedule for the tournament can be found here.
Standings for the tournament as it moves forward can be found here.

For more on International hockey you can check out the IIHF home page here, TSN's comprehensive page dedicated to the World Junior's can be found here.

We'll provide updates on all the tournament action from links below, as well as with a look at things from the Team Canada and Team USA perspectives as the tournament moves on towards  the January 5th Gold Medal Game.

Pre Competition Results

December 20 -- Canada 2, Finland 3
December 20-- USA 3, Sweden 2 (OT)
December 22-- Finland 5 vs USA 1
December 22-- Canada 2 vs Sweden 1 (OT)
December 23-- Czech Republic 7 vs Germany 2
December 23-- Russia 7 vs Switzerland 5

Preliminary Round

December 26-- Latvia 1 vs Finland 5
December 26-- Germany 3 vs Canada 9
December 26-- Czech Republic 1 vs Sweden 4
December 26-- Slovakia 2 vs Russia 3 (OT)
December 27-- Switzerland 7 vs Latvia 2
December 27-- USA 8 vs Germany 0
December 28-- Finland 1 vs Czech Republic 3
December 28-- Canada 6 vs Slovakia 3
December 28-- Sweden 3 vs Switzerland 2
December 28-- Russia 2 vs USA 1
December 29-- Latvia 1 vs Sweden 5
December 29-- Germany 0 vs Russia 7
December 30-- Finland 5 vs Switzerland 4
December 30-- Canada 2 vs USA 1
December 30-- Czech Republic 4 vs Latvia 2
December 30-- Slovakia 2 vs Germany 1
December 31-- Switzerland 3 vs Czech Republic 4 (OT)
December 31-- USA 9 vs Slovakia 3
December 31-- Sweden 7 vs Finland 4
December 31-- Russia 1 vs Canada 4

Quarter Finals

January 2-- Czech Republic 0 vs USA 7
January 2-- Russia 4 vs Switzerland 3 (Shoot Out)

Semi Finals

January 3-- Canada 1 vs USA 5
January 3-- Sweden 3 vs Russia 2 (Shoot Out)

5th Place Game

January 4-- Czech Republic 4 vs Switzerland 3

Bronze Medal Game

January 5-- Canada vs Russia


January 5-- Sweden vs USA

Relegation Round

January 2-- Finland 8 vs Germany 0
January 3-- Slovakia 5 vs Latvia 3
January 4-- Germany 5 vs Latvia 2
January 5-- Finland vs Slovakia

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

So, do we have your attention yet?

And the surveys say...

Has the NHL and their fellow non-negotiators at the NHLPA finally crossed the line of fan loyalty?

A resounding yes would be the answer, if the results of a CBC commissioned online poll is to be divined.

A survey pool of around 7,102 respondents offered up their thoughts on ten questions, the results which provide proof that anger, disappointment and a growing sense of indifference to the product at hand may very well be the lasting result of this latest labour disruption from the game.

High on the list of wishes for hockey fans would apparently be that both Gary Bettman and Don Fehr just take a nice long walk into the sunset, never to be heard or seen again. 55 percent of the respondents said that both should step down once the lockout is brought to an end.

Perhaps that anger is responsible for perhaps the most worrying thing for a gate driven league, 78 percent said that they would NOT buy a ticket to an NHL game this season if play resumes, making for the prospect of vistas of empty seats should fans hold firm to their convictions

For those that will forgive the NHL and its players for the mess, the best way to court their return is to lower ticket prices, 58 per cent of those surveyed said that was the first thing the NHL should do upon the resumption of play, should that ever come to pass. 27 per cent feel that a public apology would be a nice gesture as well.

It's all moot at the moment anyways, with the two sides not even discussing anything and Christmas fast approaching, perhaps reflected in the belief that there will not be a season for 2012-13, 68 percent feel the season is lost, 21 per cent are hedging their bets with a maybe while 11 percent clearly believe in Santa Claus with all their heart.

You can review the full ten question survey here.

More extrapolation of the results can be found below.

CBC-- NHL lockout Survey

The lack of hockey is proving to be a gold mine for research companies with a plethora of surveys keeping puck heads busy in lieu of actual product to watch on the ice. And in each and every one of them offer up bad news for Mr. Bettman, Mr. Fehr and the game they seem determined to banish from our memories.

NRG Research Group and Peak Communications found that 58 per cent of those that responded to their survey just don't care if the NHL comes back or not. 25 percent believe that it's now too late to salvage the season.

Vancouver Province-- Hockey's heartland tells the NHL three words Gary Bettman never wanted to hear: 'We don't care'

And things get worse for the NHL when it comes to their brand, another survey, this one conducted by Level 5 marketing for the Globe and Mail shows that the NHL lockout is causing much damage to the brand.

The most startling of their findings is that passion for hockey from Canadians has now slipped to 33 percent, a dangerous drop in emotional attachment for a sport that once commanded over 50 percent of the nation's affections.

For the NHL that should be the final alarm bell that this Armageddon strategy is going to have some nasty repercussions, when you've lost your base, the one part of your geography where the game still (or used to resonate) dangerous times will be yours going forward.

Then again, as we've seen, what four times now? The interests of the fans and protection of the base of support for the game in Canada rarely, if ever, seem to be a discussion topic with the NHL or the NHLPA.

Friday, December 07, 2012

They say the neon lights are bright on broadway...

Should the NHL ever get around to playing that historical shinny thing again, we suspect that a new TV contract should be the first order of business.

After Thursday night's double bill of theatre, the NHL needs to tear up their TSN, CBC, Sportsnet and NBCSports deals, there really is only one place for such theatre to be that's PBS, for Thursday night gave us Drama and Comedy the likes of Masterpiece Theatre.

Hockey fans who might have found a glimmer of hope in Donald Fehr's stand up at the Westin (we're looking at you James Duthie) were brought back down to earth when Gary Bettman took to his own podium (twitter feed preparing an update as we speak) to deliver the downside of Fehr's upside, that being that Fehr apparently wasn't on the same page as the NHL.

But before we got to Darth Vader, er, Gary delivering news of the attack on the rebels, there was the sideline humour of the NHLPA learning that all offers were off the table, by way of a message left on a phone.

To reply to this message press one, To save press two, To discard press three... To give up and find other work, press four...

Yes, after how many days of face to face discussions, the pivotal moment of the breakdown of negotiations was handled as though you or I were a) breaking off a dinner engagement or b) breaking off an actual engagement, depending on your tendency to cowardice we imagine.

Perhaps, the NHLPA couldn't be reached, hence the phone message, but really a simple "call us" might have been helpful, if for no other reason than to appear like adults and not teenagers dumping their once BFF.

At any rate, the drama continued on with Mr. Bettman growing in anger with each passing sentence, given to some serious snark whenever he gathers in a press conference, he was in full dudgeon by the time his full spleen venting was complete.


The added bonus to all the dramaramarama being the arrival of a platoon of the NHLPA Praetorian guard, there to observe, occasionally scowl and cross their arms from time to time..

The post speech scrums provided some interesting sideshows as well, word that at one point owners we're trying to pull their players from meetings, suggesting that things might go better if only that snarly Mr. Fehr was to be sent away.

Players tweeting their anger over the now common forum of twitter, where everyone it seems defaults for their stream of consciousness thinking these days.

All in all, a bizarre spectacle that had all the appearances of a warm up to Armageddon Day.

Duelling press conferences, with conflicting opinions and nothing in the way of a blue print it seems to move forward.

The end takeaway from it all being that for the moment there will be nohockeyforus(tm), no discussions between union and management and a clock continues to talk to some magic moment when all discover that the best skating days on the pond have passed them by for the season.

Some of the reviews (enjoy them while they last the paywall craze is spreading) from Broadway have come in, both performance receiving a critics choice and a critics pan in equal doses.

National Post-- NHL labour negotiations come crashing down in blink of an eye
National Post-- League wastes no time in rejecting NHLPA's latest offer
Globe and Mail-- Are NHL PLayers ready to roll over?
Globe and Mail-- Latest breakdown reminiscent of 2004
Calgary Herald-- Hockey world dazed and confuses as sport remains stuck in a boardroom
Edmonton Journal-- Arrrgghh. I'm sick of the whole labour battle
Montreal Gazette-- NHL owners have to deal with Fehr
Montreal Gazette-- Ken Dryden weighs in on NHL lockout
Ottawa Citizen-- Lockout standoff continues to amaze
Ottawa Citizen--  NHL lockout talks break off, as league, players point fingers
Toronto Star-- Owners skating circles around players in labour fight: Kelly
Toronto Star-- It's getting 'surreal', says labour expert
Toronto Star-- Putting on a show rather than doing a deal: Cox
Toronto Sun-- As NHL lockout talks collapse, angry Gary Bettman questions integrity of NHLPA
Toronto Sun-- NHL determined to have meaningful season
Toronto Sun-- Season hangs in balance after NHL rejects offer
Toronto Sun-- Cherry tweets he's never seen Bettman so fired up
Winnipeg Free Press-- Time for players to cast ballots
Winnipeg Free Press-- Players not surprised
Vancouver Province-- All that hope now gone up in smoke
Vancouver Sun-- Seething step backward as deal disappears
Sportsnet-- 30 minutes of madness
Sportnset-- The NHLPA's Bady Boyfriend
Sportsnet-- NHL Carrying the Play
Sportsnet-- NHL, NHLPA Say Goodbye to Good Feelings
ESPN-- Labor talks bring high drama
TSN-- NHL, Rejects NHLPA's Offer, No Future Talks Planned
TSN-- The Bizarre Week of CBA Talks
TSN-- Crosby, Players show frustration with Breakdown in Talks
CBC-- Implosion in NHL talks leaves players with few options
CBC-- NHL, NHLPA down to final 40 days to save season
CBC-- Time for NHL, players to get real
CBC-- Don Cherry on Gary Bettman "I have never seen him so livid"
The Hockey News-- NHL, NHLPA negotiations break down in big way

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Soundtrack to the Shutdown: Bonnie Tyler and Heroes

An interesting essay on the NHL lockout in today's New York Post, where the Post's Larry Brooks calls for a Few Good NHL men to step up and be a hero in this vitriolic debate.

And while we're sure more than a few fans might find it hard to believe that a cabal of a few owners are holding the entire league hostage.

The good news out of all of this, if there is any good news we guess, is that the New York media still actually finds the NHL story interesting enough to offer up some coverage, so perhaps the league can be thankful for that, though maybe not so much the Commissioner himself.

Brooks does bring up an interesting theme, that of a split in the league's ownership class and the approach that Gary Bettman is taking in yet another labour dispute with the league's players. With a few apparently less than impressed with how things are going at the moment.

Surely, if the more monied of the collective wished for it, then this dispute would have long since been settled, so, we suspect that more than just a few are still onside with the thermo-nuclear model currently set to detonate.

Still, the article does offer up some evidence that all are not happy with the boss man, who after all works on behalf of the owners.

All in all though, we're not sure if the NHL needs a Hero or a Hostage Negotiator at this point...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hey Gary, Don! Don't worry, we're finding other things to do!

Well finally. here's something  that could finally help to spur on the negotiations between the NHL and the NHLPA.

It appears that the fans at home and the audience for television aren't going to wait for the two sides to resolve their difference,  seemingly having found other pursuits to follow in the absence of their once favourite sport.


And this latest bit of news should give the NHL and the NHLPA cause for worry about the future.

Canadians it seems are doing just fine without the NHL. In fact, some it seems have found something that is just a little bit more rewarding than game number 378 on the endless regular season schedule

No, It's not basketball, football or even the World Poker Tour or UFC that is putting the NHL at risk.

Rather, it's er, uhm, how to put this... relationships, that might be the biggest threat to the league upon an eventual settlement.

Offering up the theory that the damage of the lock out may be too hard to repair with just a "Welcome back fans" and a few games on the tube.

And when it comes to all that NHL merchandise that the NHL flogged to the fan base through the season, well... Goodbye replica jersey's and bobblehead dolls!

Really, once Canadians get into the groove if you will, we suspect hockey in the end just isn't going to be able to compete with this.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Two weeks for icing

When faced with a bit of adversity, the advice it seems is, walk away...

It would seem that things have become so heated between the NHL and the NHLPA that Gary Bettman is seeking a time out, a two week cooling off period for the two sides that will give the US based participants time to reflect we guess over Thanksgiving Turkey.

The latest puff of smoke from the Vatican, er, NHL offices offers up the cooling period as a constructive thing, seemingly by not talking they will get closer to a deal to salvage a season quickly ticking by.

It's an interesting thought, this new theory of How to Settle a Labour Dispute.

Perhaps it will make up a chapter in Gary Bettman's eventual scholarly tome on the issue. (After the many labour disputes , cancelled seasons and aura of acrimony that seems to steep in the NHL, his guide might be helpful as to how NOT negotiate a contract, run a league, go for a walk)

In fact, the idea of just walking away from it all it offers up a tantalizing prospect for fans of the game, following the Commissioners lead, we propose that upon any settlement (should such a fantasy ever arrive) that hockey fans take this policy to the next level.

How about NOT ATTENDING, NOT WATCHING, two weeks, two months, two seasons, whatever it takes, so do we have your attention yet Mr. Commissioner.

For the negotiating teams  how about this, come Thursday, pass on the pumpkin pie, better yet pack some turkey sandwiches and bring some extras and head back to the negotiating table, the only way this mess gets settled is for the two sides to start to act like adults.

Something that so far hasn't been offered up as a working theory.

A break for a couple of days to refocus on why both sides is there makes sense.

A couple of weeks?  Well not so much.

The Commissioner's cooling off thoughts have been the subject of much review, some of the more helpful contributions can be found below.

National Post-- Gary Bettman suggests a break from labour talks
National Post-- Pessimism reigns with negotiations between owners, players at a standstill
Toronto Star-- Cooling off period nothing personal, league says
CBC-- Negotiations still on hold in NHL lockout Bettman suggests to NHLPA that sides take a break in negotiations
Ottawa Sun-- Ex-Ottawa Senator Matt Carkner wants end to NHL lockout
Ottawa Citizen-- Blinkered thinking behind NHL impasse
Montreal Gazette-- Nothing to talk about in NHL lockout ... really?
Montreal Gazette-- Both sides are wrong in NHL labour dispute
Winnipeg Sun-- Jets think propose two-week break 'ridiculous'
Winnipeg Sun-- Eric Lindros gives NHL owners an "F" for role in lockout
Winnipeg Free Press-- Players jolted by Bettman's suggestion
Edmonton Journal-- The NHLPA's attack on Bettman's 'two week delay' is hypocritical
Edmonton Journal-- "Let's take a two-week break"
New York Post-- NHL talks hiatus may not last two weeks
New York Daily News-- NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman backtracks on two week moratorium...
New York Daily News-- NHL's deputy commissioner Bill Daly discouraged...
Detroit Free Press-- Detroit's Ian White: Gary Bettman is an idiot
Detroit News-- Detroit Red Wings' Ian White on Gary Bettman: '... he's an idiot'
Chicago Sun Times-- Loyally screwed: NHL fans deserve better than this
Chicago Sun Times-- Blackhawks stars call NHL's new cancellations 'a scare tactic'
Chicago Tribune-- NHLPA hopes to continue talks next week Is Flyers' Snider helping thaw NHL talks?
NESN-- Paul Kelly "Hasn't seen" Reason for Optimism about NHL Labor Negotiations (video)

Bill Simmons for the prosecution

Of the volume of items that have come to fill space since September and the start of the latest in disruptions to our fall rituals, the most recent item posted to the always informative and entertaining GRANTLAND site perhaps is the best examination yet, as to how dysfunctional today's NHL is.

Written by Bill Simmons, the best selling author and the founder and current editor in chief of GRANTLAND,  the Bettman piece outlines the lengthy resume of disaster brought upon the NHL by its Commissioner, a searing indictment of a league that has taken a game with so much upside and for yet the umpteenth time, left it battered, bruised and abandoned in an ice filled ditch.

While the documentation of the league's past history is entertaining in a (Man, really, they did that?) kind of way.

The most interesting concept for hockey fans from the article would be the almost dream like sequence where we have a sweating Gary Bettman in front of an impeachment panel. Eyes no doubt shifting,  lawyers standing by to interject, as the Commissioner tries to explain how his many miscues could be construed as having been good for the game.

At this point of the latest mess that the NHL has found itself in, the impeachment concept is perhaps the only sliver of hope for a game (and its fans) that has suffered for so long under the Three Stooges like stewardship of both the NHL and NHLPA.

You have to start somewhere we guess, may as well be at the top.

The Grantland article is a must read for sports fans and business observers  alike, dragging out the NHL's blue print and laying waste to it in short, concise punches, each sentence another scathing indictment as to just how messed up the league really is.

For further research, we also recommend the Grantland podcasts, where detailed examinations of all sports can be found, occasionally even items on hockey, though we imagine that hockey falls further and further off the sports radar in the US by the day.

If we ever do get to the idea of an impeachment, lets nominate Mr. Simmons as the lead prosecutor, he seems to have the evidence trail quite handy.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Meanwhile over lunch... November 10th edition

Reports out of New York have it that the NHL and NHLPA have spent a rather large amount of time just throwing down the dis-respect. The two sides perhaps starting to grate on each others nerves, as these latest negotiation sessions drag on and on and on. Apparently go south a bit, and we don't mean to Florida.

At least that's what we can divine from the many twitter posts and news accounts issued from the assembled media types, who have been quick to their tweets and reports with the back and forth of the Grade 8 level banter between the two sides.

Labour talks turn sour after latest meeting
NHL, players fire shots as lockout talks break off
Don Fehr, Ron Hainsey and NHL players' union challenge NHL on accusations...
Gloves are off in NHL labour talks
NHL labour talks strike bump in the road on fourth consecutive day of negotiations
NHL must negotiate with Fehr, not attack him

All however is not lost, the two parties have apparently adjourned for a luncheon date, perhaps to discuss things a bit more, maybe a full belly will make them a little more amenable towards an eventual settlement.

Let's check in shall we...

Well, that's not particularly encouraging is it..

Then again, things could be worse we guess, the last time two groups got together in a New York restaurant it ended really, really badly...

The only advice we can offer the two sides at this point is, make sure everyone has gone to the bathroom before the meeting starts..

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Scenes from a secret negotiating table...

As word spreads of a secret destination for today's get together between the NHL and the NHLPA, we're kind of struck as to how these negotiation sessions are starting to resemble the plot line of that  classic old Billy Joel standard, Scenes from an Italian restaurant.

And while we understand that it's Bill and Steve today, we're hopeful that perhaps today's get together is somehow like two old friends brokering a reconciliation for their struggling friends...

So for dramatic licence, Insert Donny and Gary for Brenda and Eddie, and well you can all kind of follow along if you wish...

 For those that wish to sing along, open this link in a seperate window and warm up your vocal chords... 

The preamble to the negotiations perhaps? 

A bottle of white, a bottle of red, 
Perhaps a bottle of rosé instead. 
We'll get a table near the street 
In our old familiar place 
You and I - face to face 

A bottle of red, a bottle of white 
It all depends upon your appetite 
I'll meet you any time you want
 In our Italian Restaurant. 

Gary and Donny, Catching up on the months that went by...

Things are okay with me these days 
I got a good job, I got a good office 
I got a new wife, got a new life And the family is fine 

Oh we lost touch long ago 
You lost weight  
I did not know 
You could ever look so nice after so much time. 

Do you remember those days hanging out at the village green? 
Engineer boots, leather jackets and tight blue jeans 
Oh you drop a dime in the box play a song about New Orleans 
Cold beer, hot lights, my sweet romantic teenage nights 

And a little background about our two star crossed negotiators..

Brenda and Eddie (Donny and Gary) were the popular steadies 
And the king and the queen of the prom 
Riding around with the car top down and the radio on 
Nobody looked any finer 
Or was more of a hit at the Parkway Diner 
We never knew we could want more than that out of life 
Surely Brenda and Eddie(Donny and Gary) would always know how to survive.

Brenda and Eddie (Gary and Donny) were still going steady in the summer of '75 
When they decided the marriage would be at the end of July 
Everyone said they were crazy 
"Brenda (Donny) you know that you're much too lazy 
and Eddie (Gary) could never afford to live that kind of life." 
Oh, but there we were wavin' Brenda and Eddie (Donny and Gary) goodbye. 

Looked good for a while there, but Oh, oh, oh!  But there's trouble on the way... 

Well they got an apartment with deep pile carpets 
And a couple of paintings from Sears 
A big waterbed that they bought with the bread 
They had saved for a couple of years 
but they started to fight when the money got tight 
And they just didn't count on the tears. 

Well, they lived for a while in a very nice style 
But it's always the same in the end 
They got a divorce as a matter of course 
And they parted the closest of friends 
Then the king and the queen went back to the green 
But you could never go back there again 

Oh, oh Brenda and Eddie (Donny and Gary) had had it already by the summer of '75 
From the high to the low to the end of the show 
For the rest of their lives 
They couldn't go back to the greasers 
The best they could do was pick up their pieces 
We always knew they would both find a way to get by 
Oh and that's all I heard about Brenda and Eddie (Donny and Gary) 
Can't tell you more 'cause I've told you already 
And here we are wavin' Brenda and Eddie  (Donny and Gary) goodbye 

Yeah, it  leaves us all where we are right now, waiting to hear if those two crazy kids can patch it up and live happily ever after...

Or at least until the next contract, whenever it come about, expires..

A bottle of red, a bottle of white, 
Whatever kind of mood you're in tonight I'll meet you anytime you want 
In our Italian Restaurant.

We'll see how it all turns out this weekend, will the secret get together bring them closer together, or...

Is the next Billy Joel song on the NHL/NHLPA jukebox this one?

Time will tell.

(Words and lyrics from Billy Joel, Scenes From an Italian Restaurant, Album: The Stranger)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Islanders make a commute

Technically we guess, they can still call the club the Islanders, though it perhaps is a bit of a stretch considering the land mass that Brooklyn takes in as part of the Metropolitan New York area.

This week's announcement that Charles Wang is moving his hockey club closer to the epicentre of life in New York and it's corporate offices was the actual surprising news of the week, (sadly the cancellation of yet more games for November wasn't) with Wang's Islanders set to join up with the newly moved  Brooklyn Nets, taking up residence of the Barclay's Centre with the hottest of sport's team of the moment in NYC.
The Islanders, who have been involved in a long, drawn out battle with Long Island officials for a new home for the once marquee franchise, seemingly found the lure of relocation too strong, adding to the vibe of a part of New York sports scene that last resonated when some team called the Dodgers had a place to play there.

The success of the transplant of the Nets from Newark to Jay Z's neighbourhood has been the marketing dream of the year so far for the NBA, with sales of Brooklyn themed items outpacing all other teams of the NBA.

The Barclay's Centre has already featured it's first game, an exhibition session that brought life to a neighbourhood and pride to a borough that hasn't been seen in a long, long time. To all of that excitement Mr. Wang hopes to bring his hockey club, though he will while away a few more years in Nassau county, the attendance numbers (should the NHL ever get around to getting back on the ice) we imagine reflective of the woes of Wang through the last number of years.

The move to Brooklyn takes the Islanders into what will be the smallest of arenas in the NHL, less even than the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, yet Wang seems to have taken a page out of the Jets blue print, where small is better, with more luxury boxes for added income, we imagine he believes the Islanders will at least stem the flow of red ink that was the feature of the attendance count of Islander games last year.

For such stars as John Tavares and Kyle Okposo, the move to Brooklyn will offer up a chance to share in some of the spotlight that the Rangers players enjoy, the Islanders while rather woeful on the ice the last few seasons are one team that should be poised for success moving forward (providing management doesn't make any additions to the lengthy list of head scratching decisions of the past).

When your average attendance is around the 12,000 mark or so, the noise and excitement of a packed house and a happening place could do wonders for the morale of the once dominant Stanley Cup holders of the past.

As the last few seasons have played out and the negotiations and discussions became more acrimonious by the week, the Islanders appeared to be a team in exile, once part of the New York sports scene now so out of the loop it was as if they were already playing in Quebec City, Kansas City, Hamilton or any other destination mentioned over the years.

With all this new found excitement over the future, the only concern is holding it all together as they play out the string on Long Island until 2015.

It does provide for a situation that would seem to portend some dark days for the team before the dawn of the new Islander era in Brooklyn, but as they say it's always darkest before the dawn.

The decision to head for Brooklyn no doubt came much to the relief of the NHL, which we imagine was loathe to lose a franchise in its most important media centre. Putting a four time Stanley Cup champion at the other end of the Brooklyn Bridge probably is about as good a scenario as Gary Bettman could have come up with.

There has been a renaissance for Brooklyn in the last decade, no longer thought of as the forgotten borough it's becoming a destination spot all to itself, so much so, that Charles Wang is making it his destination location

New York Post-- Move to Barclay's is a win for Islanders, fans & New York City
New York Post-- Puck drops here for the Islanders
New York Post-- Islanders' move draws mixed reaction
New York Post-- Islanders leave behind glory years, Coliseum memories
New York Daily News-- NY Islanders' move to Brooklyn's Barclays Centre is latest case of team...
New York Daily News-- Barclay's Centre and NY Islanders announce NHL franchise to relocate...
New York Daily News-- NY Islanders are on the move, heading to Brooklyn and Barclay's Centre...
New York Daily News-- Brooklyn has an NHL team, and now fans can buy a T-shirt ...
New York Daily News-- NY Islanders moving to Brooklyn faces no big protest...
New York Times-- Capsized Franchise Has Only Sunk Further into Despair
New York Times-- A Team by Any Other Name May Be Less Confusing
New York Times-- An owner with some Eyebrow-Raising Moves
New York Times-- Islanders' Brooklyn Move Raises Complex Issues
new York Times-- Should the Islanders Keep Their Name?
New York Times-- With Team's move, Pondering Tailgating on a Train
Newsday-- Loss of Islanders symbolizes Long Island's weaknesses
Newsday-- Rangers are fine with Islanders' move
Newsday-- Hub development a challenge as Isles quit
Newsday-- Gary Bettman: Barclay's Center size doesn't matter
Newsday-- Isles GM Garth Snow has a selling point now with new arena
Newsday-- Islanders make 'iron clad' 25 year commitment to Brooklyn
Newsday-- Charles Wang says move to Brooklyn won't affect name
Newsday-- Islanders brand should grow in Brooklyn
Newsday-- Former Islanders have mixed feelings about leaving Nassau Coliseum
Newsday-- After years of trying to keep Islanders in Nassau, Charles Wang chose alternative
Newsday-- Little economic hit from Islanders' loss
Newsday-- Loss of Islanders Nassau's wake-up call
Newsday-- Islanders fans: At least the team will stay in NY
Newsday-- Many longtime Islanders fans upset
Newsday-- The Islanders' Cup-winning teams in the 19080's put Long Island on the map
National Post--New York Islanders announce move to Brooklyn
National Post-- Islanders move to Brooklyn should be the first of many in the NHL

Friday, October 26, 2012

No one's picking up the phone

"You never thought you'd be alone this far down the line
And I know what's been on your mind
You're afraid it's all been wasted time"
--The Eagles, Wasted Time

Like spurned teenage lovers, the NHL and NHLPA have spent the last few days cooped up in their rooms, playing the same song over and over again, wondering how it all went so wrong (as if they don't know) refusing to talk, let alone meet somewhere to try and sort out their troubles.

With another deadline now gone by and the cancellation of  yet more of the NHL games from the schedule revealed, progress it would seem is non existent, in fact at the moment things appear to be going backwards at a fairly quick pace.

The players union head Donald Fehr is less than impressed that Gary Bettman has been seemingly going behind his back, or to be more precise has allowed the GM's and owners of the teams to go behind his back, seeking a back channel to the NHLPA membership.

The 48 hour window that apparently provided for ownership influence came and went with little change to the dynamic of the negotiations (if we could call this process that) other than to seemingly harden the position of the Fehr's and result in little to no contact since.

With proposals and counter proposals left on the floor and positions apparently hardening, it was with little surprise that the midnight hour came and went on Thursday without puffs of white smoke to signify that peace was at hand.

Not even the late night shout out from President Barack Obama, in reply to a question on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno could move the two sides to find a common room, let alone common ground.

This morning, Bill Daly was dispatched to express his disappointment that yet another session of negotiations has gone for naught, outlining the latest of games to have been removed from the schedule and the percentage of games cancelled from what should have been the 2012-12 season (for the curious that's 26.5 per cent of the season, 326 games in total thus far).

His thoughts were countered by the official reply by Don Fehr of the NHLPA, advising that the move by the NHL today came as "no surprise"

As word spread of the latest cancellations and the removal of the 50-50 proposal as a talking point moving forward (or is that backwards?). A number of the more recognizable of sports writers jumped to their twitter accounts,  offering up some thoughts on the developments.

Elliot Friedman suggesting that the Winter Classic and All Star game are on the block next, perhaps as early as Monday.

Pierre LeBrun did the math for us coming up with the total amount of lost revenue thus far, while Bruce Dowbiggin sees parallels in Donald Fehr's handling of the hockey dispute with that of his days with Major League Baseball.

So, with the weekend upon us and no word on when or if negotiators will get together for a chat,  we wonder just how much longer before another session of Hockey Armageddon arrives.

Some of the latest of reviews of our recalcitrant negotiators can be found below.

National Post-- A slow drive back down the NHL's road to ruin
National Post-- "No contact": NHL and players give each other the silent treatment
National Post-- NHL slices another month from the schedule as lockout talks stall
Toronto Star-- League cancels remaining November games
Toronto Star-- League withdraws 50-50 offer to NHLPA
Toronto Star-- League, union take hockey to the brink
Toronto Star-- League turns down union offer to meet
Toronto Star-- Time spent by both sides on meaningless stuff boggles the mind
Toronto Sun-- NHL cancels games through the end of November
Toronto Sun-- Sun Media NHL polling produces surprising results
Toronto Sun-- NHLPA: "It takes two to negotiate"
Toronto Sun-- Union irked that NHL let GMs field questions from players about CBA
Toronto Sun-- Time running out to salvage full NHL season
Toronto Sun-- Donald Fehr's baseball system won't work in NHL... but this idea might
Ottawa Citizen-- Welcome to the NHL's version of Groundhog Day - again
Winnipeg Free Press-- Fork in the road
Vancouver Sun-- Does anyone in charge even care about the game?
Vancouver Sun-- NHL PLayers' Association questions league's decision to speak with players...
Vancouver Province-- This time the league actually seems to care, but only about losing money
Globe and Mail-- Time for Bettman to walk away

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cancelled, Cancelled, Cancelled: Labour talks timeline

As the NHL labour dispute edges closer and closer to the brink of madness and the cancellation of the entire season, hockey fans suffer the death of a thousand cuts as the NHL takes the scissors to wide swaths of the planned 2012-13 season.

Below, some of the updates since the dispute began, cancelling games and keeping arenas dark across North America.

And for those following along at home, courtesy of the Toronto Star, some helpful dates to circle on your calendar for further apocalyptic puck notices.

Below some helpful??? missives  on the state of labour relations from the NHL office. An interesting review of the ebb and flow of the talks from the league's perspective, discussions (sort of) that thus far have resulted in but the cancellation of games and hardening of positions.

In short, it would appear that there has been a lot of talking, without anything resembling progress over the last three months.

We'll update the listings as events warrant...

December 31-- League, Union meet Monday to discuss CBA proposal
December 30-- NHL, Union expected to meet again Monday
December 28-- Daly statement regarding new CBA proposal
December 28-- League offers comprehensive CBA proposal to Union
December 20-- NHL announces cancellation of 2012-13 regular season schedule through January 14
December 14-- NHLPA Statement Regarding NHL's Complaint and Unfair Labour Practice Charge
December 14-- NHL files Class Action Complaint in Federal Court, Unfair Labour Practice Charge with NLRB
December 13-- NHL, PA meet with mediators for second straight day
December 12-- NHL reports no progress after mediation session
December 12-- NHL, Union meet with federal mediators Wednesday
December 10-- NHL, Union endeavouring to restart labor talks
December 6-- NHLPA proposal rejected; no talks scheduled
December 6-- Owners' statements on CBA talks
December 6-- NHL, NHLPA meet for an hour Thursday
December 6-- NHL, Union to continue marathon CBA session
December 5-- NHL, Union reconvene after BOG meeting
December 5-- League, Union encouraged after eight-hour meeting
December 2-- Statement from NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly
November 29-- CBA mediation with League, Union unsuccessful
November 29-- Daly statement on mediation
November 28-- NHL, Union meet with mediators Wednesday
November 26-- League, Union turn to mediators in CBA negotiations
November 23-- NHL announces cancellation of schedule through Dec. 14 and 2013 All-Star weekend in Columbus
November 21-- NHL, Union remain apart after latest proposals
November 19-- NHL urges NHLPA to bring full CBA proposal to table
November 17-- NHL, PA scheduled to resume negotiations Monday
November 11-- NHL, NHLPA discuss contracting issues on Sunday
November 10-- NHL, NHLPA have informal lunch, no talks scheduled
November 9-- NHL, NHLPA meet for fourth straight day
November 8-- CBA meeting adjourned, will continue Friday
November 7-- CBA meeting adjourned, will continue Thursday
November 3-- NHL, NHLPA to meet Saturday
November 2-- NHL announces cancellation of 2013 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival
October 26-- NHLPA statement from Executive Director Don Fehr
October 26-- Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly statement regarding cancellation of 2012-13 schedule through November 30
October 26-- NHL announces cancellation of 2012-13 regular season schedule through November 30
October 24-- Bettman: 82 game season looks unlikely
October 19-- NHL announces cancellation of 2012-13 regular season schedule through November 1
October 18-- CBA negotiations break off Thursday
October 17-- NHL, NHLPA to meet again Thursday
October 16-- NHL makes 50-50 revenue split offer
October 11-- CBA talks adjourned after two days of sessions
October 11-- Daly: No progress in latest CBA talks
October 10-- NHL, NHLPA resume CBA negotiations in NYC
October 10-- Alberta labor board sides with NHL in lockout ruling
October 10-- Daly statement regarding Alberta Labor Board ruling
October 5-- NHL, NHLPA meet in Toronto for CBA discussions
October 4-- Statement from NHL Deputy Commissioner Billy Daly
October 4-- NHL announces cancellation of 2012-13 regular season through October 24
October 2-- CBA negotiations stall after two-hour meeting Tuesday
September 30-- NHL, NHLPA finish three days of CBA negotiations
September 30-- League, NHLPA conclude three days of talks
September 29-- Third straight day of CBA discussion concludes
September 28-- CBA talks resume, will continue during weekend
September 28-- CBA negotiations resume Friday
September 27-- NHL cancels remaining preseason schedule
September 24-- Daly: CBA negotiations could resume this week
September 16-- A message to our fans
September 15-- No CBA negotiations scheduled before deadline
September 13-- NHL willing to negotiate as CBA deadline nears
September 12-- NHL makes new proposal in CBA negotiations
September 10-- NHL disagrees with NHLPA labor filings in Canada
September 7-- NHL, NHLPA meet Friday to discuss CBA negotiations
August 31-- CBA talks stalled after Friday's session
August 31-- NHLPA expected to deliver counterproposal Friday
August 30-- NHL hopeful progress continues with NHLPA proposal
August 30-- NHL, NHLPA to resume CBA negotiations Friday
August 29-- NHL awaits NHLPA counterproposal
August 29-- NHL, players to resume CBA negotiations Wednesday
August 28-- NHL makes 'significant' counterproposal Tuesday
August 23-- Hockey-related revenue focus of latest CBA session
August 22-- Top CBA negotiators meet, set stage for Thursday
August 16-- Hockey issues dominate CBA negotiation Thursday
August 15-- NHL: Gap remains between CBA economic proposals
August 14-- NHLPA submits CBA proposal in Tuesday meeting
August 13-- Growth of business discussed in NHL, NHLPA session
August 10-- NHL, NHLPA meet for fourth consecutive day
August 9-- NHL: New CBA needed to start 2012-13 season
August 8-- Supplemental discipline focus of latest CBA session
August 7-- NHL, NHLPA reconvene CBA negotiations Tuesday
August 1-- Subcommittee work dominates latest CBA session
July 31-- NHL further explains CBA proposal in lengthy session
July 26-- NHL, NHLPA discuss player benefits in latest session
July 25-- League provides further detail on proposal to players
July 24-- NHL, NHLPA discuss discipline, other issues
July 20-- NHL, NHLPA conclude three-day negotiating session
July 18-- NHL states desire to settle CBA talks by Sept. 15
July 10-- NHL, NHLPA continue negotiations in Toronto
July 6-- NHL, NHLPA conclude latest negotiating session
July 6-- Statement from NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly regarding July 5-6 collective bargaining sessions
July 5-- NHL, NHLPA hold second day of negotiations
June 29-- Don Fehr statement after CBA talks
June 28-- NHLPA, NHL announce team payroll range for 2012-13
June 27-- NHLPA finishes executive board meetings
June 25-- NHLPA begins board meetings